VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., (Nov. 15, 2013) - Traffic tickets can impact your driving record, raise insurance rates, and cost you time, money and stress. AAA’s experts advise that taking the right approach to promptly resolve tickets can minimize these potential difficulties and get you back to driving safely.
“State and county laws vary greatly. Knowing your options and the processes in your region for paying or contesting a ticket can help avoid confusion, delay, and further complications”, advises Dr. Georjeane Blumling, Driver Improvement Lead Instructor for AAA Tidewater Virginia, “Your ticket paperwork should include guidance for learning more information.” AAA offers the following tips to keep in mind after receiving a traffic ticket or violation:
The Clock is Ticking
Pay close attention to the due date or “Notice to Appear” date on your citation. Failing to appear on the given date or late payment of a fine can result in additional costs and consequences including suspension of your license or even a warrant being issued for your arrest. Failing to act by the given date may also limit your options for resolving the ticket.
The “Fine” Print
When it comes to resolving traffic tickets, details matter. Ask the issuing officer, read your ticket paperwork thoroughly or ask the court about how tickets can be paid. Some jurisdictions accept payment online, while others require that payment be mailed or made in person.
Also, make sure that you pay the exact amount listed on the traffic ticket, to include the fine and relevant fees, court costs or other charges. Submitting the incorrect amount will delay processing.
Pay It or Contest It or Earn Your Way Clear
There are several factors to consider when deciding to pay or contest a ticket and you should be aware of your options and their potential consequences. Paying the fine assessed is considered an admission of guilt. Resolving your ticket in this way may put a traffic offense on your driving record and can cause a pre-determined number of points to be assessed on your driver’s license. Accruing too many points in a certain amount of time could result in the suspension of your license.
Contesting the ticket may require you to appear in court, in which you would represent yourself or retain legal counsel. Contesting a ticket in court and being found not guilty absolves you of the offense, fine and other consequences; however, if you are found guilty, you may be responsible for the original fine, plus additional fees and court costs.
Virginia may allow offenders to complete a defensive driving program to earn their way partially or completely clear of the consequences. AAA Tidewater Virginia offers classroom Driving Improvement Clinics; an 8-hr DMV approved defensive driving course to award points, satisfy DMV requirements, or meet court requirements. Simply call 757-233-3887 for additional information or to sign up for a class. In addition, AAA offers online Defensive Driving courses at www.AAA.com/drivertraining. This online option can be used for some violations but is not valid for drivers under the age of 20.
Avoid Future Tickets
To help prevent more traffic tickets in the future and stay safe on the road, AAA recommends the following:
- Always make sure your speed matches the local driving conditions, including the immediate speed limit, as well as visibility, traction and traffic density
- Never cause another driver to have to change their speed or position on the roadway
- When you are driving, just drive—avoid engaging in other activities that could distract you.
Additionally, motorists should visit AAA’s Digest of Motor Laws. This free, online resource, a compendium of laws and rules related to driving and owning a motor vehicle in the United States and Canada, can help keep you current on the differing traffic laws state-by-state and province-by-province.
As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 325,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATWnews.
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